So I am back. After two months of absence. After all it is not that long if you think about it. But it is an eternity compared to my food blogger friends who seem able to cook, photograph, and write about their dishes almost every day.
This post was planned a while ago, in fact in conjunction with Christmas and that of course slipped. But to be honest, ricciarelli from Siena are wonderful almost any time of the year. So much so that even the Ministry of Agriculture appealed to have them protected as a year-long treat. And it obtained what it wanted! The recipe of these slim diamond shape biscuits has recently been declared PGI, "product of geographical indication", as only in Siena they can be made under the original recipe. This should not put you off from reproducing them at home - between you and I they taste pretty similar! But don't tell the PGI people...
I like to bite into their powdery sweet and crusty surface thinking that a noble knight, Ricciardetto della Gherardesca, came back from the Crusades and, I guess quite pleased to be still alive and all in one piece, celebrated his return by creating something that could recall the Middle-East. Their main ingredient is almond, which is greatly used in all middle-eastern cuisine, and their pointed shape was to recall the Turkish slippers.
I always love eating something that is good and even has so much history behind it...I do hope you will try them next time you are in Siena. In the meantime, you can try this recipe. Sadly there is a missing ingredient - bitter almonds - which I cannot find here in Cambridge. What I do though is to use a few drops of almond essence which is quite bitter.
200g ground almonds
2 egg whites
1/2 lemon zest
175g icing sugar
2 drops of vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder
extra icing sugar for coating
Pre-heat the oven at C170.
Beat the egg whites until very firm. Mix the ground almonds with the sugar and baking powder. Grate the zest and add it to the almond flour.
Gently incorporate the dry ingredients to the beaten egg whites until well combined. You will have a reasonably wet mixture and don't be tempted by adding more ground almonds. It is a bit of a sticky affair but actually the good of it is that you can lick your fingers from time to time to help...
Make walnut size balls and flat them on your palm. Give them a rough shape of diamonds and by doing that cover them in icing sugar and coat them well. Place them on a trey covered with baking paper.